1. Overall comments and feedback
First, if you were not with us this week, I encourage you to consider joining (if you boss lets you...) next year. And, if you had the privilege to attend and participate to his inaugural conference, please consider augmenting this report with your own notes, observations, ideas by leaving a comment on this post. To the ISIS public (our Service Engineering platform in IBM's Software Group) which may wonder why I include SRII-related post in this blog, SRII builds bridges between Service Research and Service Engineering, so this represents an invite to rally and join any initiative you can.
After last year's leadership conference, this was the inaugural 2011 annual global conference, labeled: "Innovating Services for the Smarter World." SRII has two i's: one for institute, the other for innovation. And the latter keyword, innovation, has been used in an explicit way in most of the presentations. The thing which was really impressive for an organization that young (3 years) was the size (280 registered participants) and number of papers and presentations (more than 180!). And the list of countries represented. I counted 18 (Finland, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, China, India, Germany, UK, US, France, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Taiwan, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Singapore), but I haven't managed to see everyone so I probably missed a few. An amazing mix of representatives from both mature and growth markets which represents the importance of services in our global economy, as well as a mix of academia and industry, not to mention government, professional associations and health care (quite a few medical doctors participated to the conference. Which other industry sends their leaders or practitioners to such conference? I don't think there was any one form banks or insurance companies, from travel and transportation, from utility companies, all sectors which are basically service provides though). Bottom line, hat down to SRII President, Kris Singh, for having built such a global organization and network, leading to a profusion of papers on service research as well as an amazing list of renowned keynote speakers at this year's conference. Kris also gathered an impressive management team to make SRII successful (http://www.thesrii.org/index.php/management-team/executive-management-team), with a special mention to SRII's secretary, Ralph Badinelli of Virginia Tech, for his major contribution in building this very professional agenda and keeping up with a fluctuating schedule along the week.
Beyond the innovation, research, engineering, quality, cloud, mobile buzzwords to pick a few, the most used term was of course service (or services). So much that it becomes almost necessary to define it every time we use it in the context of such a broad conference. Several speakers defined service as a transaction between a supplier and customer with co-value creation. I initially thought that the co-value creation wasn't reflecting properly the service my plumber renders to me when fixing a pipe while I watch him doing so, while my part is just to pay the bill. On Friday, one of the talks I liked the most was from serial entrepreneur Tim Chow, who defined a service as "the delivery of information which is personal to you", using Amazon as an example and most on line banking sites as counter-examples. Which leads me to suggest that this definition certainly fits well the digital services nowadays, but not the human-based services which are the first one I think of when I hear the word Services, in contrast of the concept of product. I don't argue that, in our digital era, software products are not manufactured like other traditional products, especially since we distribute them electronically, yet there is merit in differentiating these two types of services, the digital ones and the human ones. While getting on the cloud bang wagon is super key and a matter of survival for any IT company nowadays as Ann Winblad so eloquently sated in the final keynote on Friday night, we still have to address the challenge of very limited productivity improvement we have reached so far on the "traditional" service side (while Moore's law led to a leaping 1 million improvement factor in density on the CPU side, it's really a big deal when we improve human-based services by 20% or a factor of 1.2, that's a big gap, isn't it? What do you think about the definition and scope of service? What are your own challenges?
The concepts of pure digital services and IT-enabled human-centric services became so intertwined in the forum that, at some point, confusion was created on the economics of the service model. In the IT industry, human-based services are known for being a lower margin business than the product-centric business. At least for the not-yet-commoditized products, or the ones which sell very well (e.g. Microsoft OS and productivity tools). Of course, the economics and scalability behind the digital services are completely different, especially in an ecosystem in which development and deployment platforms may be completely free (Apple apps, Google's android platform, ...). So, saying that services are low margin become irrelevant if you don't state which services you are referring to. Time to invent new terms and terminology (or some ontology...)?
By the way, SRII is not about any service, but IT-enabled services (IT being in this context the shortened version of ICT, Information and Communication Technology). That being said, as Kris pointed out, it's hard to find services we are not IT-enabled today or at least which would not benefit from some form of IT-enablement. Certainly, health care can improve greatly from a greater and better use of IT as Dan Riskin (Vanguard Medical Technologies) and Yan Chow (Kaiser Permanente) stated in their read-out of the Special Interest Group (SIG) they are leading around health care services. Per Dan, while some industries operate at 5 or 6 sigma (99.99966% of service quality), health care is closer to an alarming 2(*) to 3 sigmas with a lot of human errors (yikes and ouch!) and/or a lot of good intuition and miracles for the better cases (phew!).
Regarding the number of papers at such conferences, we really need to find a system making all this content more consumable. The conference had 127 papers (live 30-minute presentations or posters in post session forums), 13 keynotes by renowned speakers and more than 40 panelists. Apart for dreaming of using Watson to index this content smartly (one speaker talked about the concept of "super or mega colleague" referring of the concept of digital assistants we'll have in our pocket all the time), a simple collaborative wiki where we can attach some comments, reviews, links, suggestions, would extend in a more scalable and actionable way the water cooler type of discussions happening (or not happening) at the breaks. We need an RSS feed associated to this wiki and I'd say even a newspaper or magazine to provide news on a monthly basis for instance, and an mail notification mechanism with headlines and links to publications, for which we can set subscription preferences (frequency, format, areas of interest), so we can quickly browse through announcements (publications, collaborations, reuse in commercial context, calls for papers, calls for ideas, ...). I know, this is not research nor innovation, this is "just" infrastructure and a few elements of social collaboration and knowledge management, to make all this research work more actionable and lead to meaningful and impactful service... innovation. I also realize that it's asking more to SRII's volunteers, already doing so much on top of their day to day job, but since they did so well so far to build this content generation machine, better covering the last mile and making it effective!
Speaking of innovation, we had the privilege to get Andy Bechtolsheim's insights on how our IT world evolved over the past 40 years (first Intel chip in 1971) and his vision for the future, as well as how innovation works or doesn't. Like the horizon impediment playing in two dimensions: spatial first --it's challenging to work on a goal beyond the horizon, like it was to travel beyond the limit of the Earth in Columbus' time-- and temporal --the quarterly rhythm of our companies kind of discounts innovation which is not realizing business benefits within the quarter or next quarter (although this is the world I live in as opposed to most of the audience, I met several researchers who mentioned about this constraint too, it sounds like a virus for which we need to find a vaccine to protect longer term and bolder research...).
What I would like to see more of in SRII?
- More tangibles results of applied research (I know, I'm bringing up the time horizon dilemma here, and it's ok to admit there isn't any application yet, but at least add the "test" to every presentation)
- A stronger voice and presence of the practitioners in the trenches (and I know it is tough to ask billable consultants to volunteer time but they have to at least reach out any time they are on the bench)
- A brief abstract of the papers in the program to make the choice of which to attend and what to expect. In exchange for more content in the program, I suggest using a smaller font and lighter and less glossy paper
- Better time management (e.g. sticking to the schedule, and I'm not talking about the impact of the blackout, but for instance the numerous presentations on panels which went way over 10 minutes, some with more than 20 slides!).
- On line publication of the proceedings so we can reference others, and practitioners in particular, to them.
2. Additional notes on the conference content
At the risk of doing injustice to other papers by only reporting on the following ones, here are a few notes and comments on a subset of the keynotes, panels and paper and poster sessions I was able to attend between internal and client conference calls... Again, feel free to add yours, either agreement or different points of view, as comment to this post, so we all benefit.
- Tuesday - Global Leadership Meeting - The meeting consisted in read-outs of the SIGs and international chapters (I just realize that there doesn't seem to be a US or North American chapter as SRII started in the US and is managed from the US...). Worth noting:
At the end of this marathon day, Kris' summary was concise. It is all about "connecting teams worldwide, so they identify local and global issues and unite to address them." The sky is the limit...
- Health Care IT Services SIG (Dan Riskin, Vanguard Medical Technologies and Yan Chow, Kaiser Permanente) -- Yan admitted that the health care industry was running approximately on a 25% error rate. That 79% of patients were not taking medications as prescribed, and that represents a huge opportunity for remote services to address this issue. That, with billions of people at the door of health care organizations, providing care at hospitals was not scalable. Another big opportunity for home-based and remote health care services.
- Intelligent Services SIG (Murray Campbell, IBM Research) -- On behalf of the group, Murray highlighted the importance and challenges of human factors related to data. And the need to provide more automation to provide more scalability to the service industry and keep up with the overwhelming rate of data generation and collection from billions of devices, systems and sensors. I must admit here that I struggle with the term "Intelligent Services." First, I had not understood from the title that what people meant by intelligent services was simply the world and applications of analytics. To me, it implies that, in contrast, services not leveraging analytics are dumb. I'd rather talk about data-rich or data-centric services, or data intelligence services. Or simply "Analytics Services"? Anyway, I feel the title of the SIG should be revised to bring more clarity on scope and intent.
- SIEQ - Service Innovation, Engineering, Quality SIG (Babis Theodoulidis, University of Manchester and George Miller, British Telecom) -- To me who works in Service Engineering, this of course the main and dearest SIG. Also because it has a huge scope with so many interrelated fundamental concepts for our industry. So much that the SIG has and will have challenges narrowing down the scope and mission of the SIG. Among other very pressing and strategic themes are:
- Modeling of new services
- Design and creation of new services which are more robust and have less sensitivity to external events
- The measure of the quality of the outcome, instead of the process itself
- CeC - Cross Enterprise Collaboration SIG (Daniel Oppenheim, IBM Research) -- This is such a relevant issue, not only across different companies, but within companies of any size, across internal departments and constituents. Very interesting that the two gorillas of the IT industry (HP and IBM) are collaborating on this topic in this SIG and sharing their own experience.
- Multi-media immersion experience (HP Labs) and Applications of nano technology (IBM Research) -- Very interesting presentations from a scientific standpoint, and thought-provoking ones from a service standpoint, meaning that there was no obvious application to today's service business, especially for the latter. For the former, it is obvious that a better and richer multi-media infrastructure and offering will increase and accelerate the adoption of tele-presence and tele-delivery of services, supporting for instance remote medical consultations or interactions between customers and agents (augmenting the success and pervasiveness of audio conferencing where visio conferencing failed for acceptable performance and experience).
- Chapters -- We then had 8 read-outs from the regional chapters (India, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, Taiwan).
- In Thailand, whose economy includes a very high percentage of services, the government has established an institute dedicated to service research, SRI, which naturally became the umbrella of the local SRII chapter in this country. Initiatives include Smart Health and Smart Farm, in addition to the special attention to two critical source of services, education and tourism.
- In Germany which is known for its excellence in manufacturing of products, there is a good and bad news. The good news is that Service Innovation is part of the 17 initiatives the government set for the country in 2006. The bad news is that the initiative got €50M out of the total €15Bn allocated to the overall program, a mere or abysmal 0.3%... But, again, better than nothing. With that, Gerhard mentioned the awareness program called "INSPIRE Germany!" (National Initiative for Service Policy, Innovation and Research in Germany). Like in Thailand, the ideal fit to attach the local SRII chapter. The overall idea in Germany is to create mind share around the concept of co-creation of value with product manufacturing through the establishment of service systems.
- On behalf of the SRII Spain Chapter, Pere Botella explained how his university is leading the way and also mentioned the following initiative, NESSI (http://www.nessi-europe.com). The acronyms stands for Networked European Software and Service Initiative to address the challenges of the Internet of Services in the ICT industry. It regroups 430 organizations from industry and academia!
- Keynote - Robert Morris - VP Service Research, IBM -- Robert had a very insightful talk at the SRII leadership conference last year, about the disproportion between the dominance of services in our economies today (over agriculture and industry/manufacturing). All hard problems around the world relate to information (social, economical, geographical, environmental). Health Care is so far from the Pareto curve, it is not even necessarily needed to make trade-offs between costs and improvements, as it is often the case in other optimization sectors and technologies. Robert mentioned BASIC (the Bay Area Science & Innovation Consortium) and a Collaborative Care Cloud initiative in South California. Two major types of innovations (slides 18-19). First, when technology is used to automate, to do the same thing better and faster. Second, and something which requires more radical change, changing the process, to do things or render a service in a radically different manner.
- Panel - Service Innovation, Engineering and Quality (SIEQ) - Again, per my earlier comment, SIEQ faces the challenge of an overwhelming broad scope. With that, the panel brought a collection of interesting perspectives albeit quite disjoint in my opinion.
- Tung Bui, Chair and Professor of Technology Management at the University of Hawaii, used the Condorcet Principle about democracy to illustrate how collaboration can lead to innovation. I didn't know about this expression of democracy, and found the comment to actually be quite relevant to another SIG, the CeC one (Cross-Enterprise Collaboration). In a few words: considering most of the ideas of the group (concordance) without ignoring any opposition (discordance).
- Mahmoud Naghsheineh, VP Service Innovation Lab at IBM Research, reminded us about the three tiers of service quality: client experience (front stage), quality in solutioning (which in most cases is still an art and should move to a science), quality in delivery. And how any service and marketing model should address these three levels.
- Ana Pinczuk, VP Global Technical Services at Cisco, made an appealing argument for the leverage of forums to spur innovation.
- Increasing Service Productivity through Service Migration and Externalization -- Freimut Bodendorf from the Friedrich Alexander University in Nuremberg, Germany, presented his concept of service migration. Basically, how to reuse a service which was designed to address a specific need, to tackle another challenge in another context. Because migration really means something else in the IT service industry, I thought the term was really confusing, and I would rather recommend to leverage the concept of pattern. The illustration in the context of Adidas was very convincing (how virtual prototyping was first applied to shortening the product design cycle, then reapplied to replace physical samples in the trade shows where retailers place their orders, then on the web to improve the customer shopping experience while browsing through on line catalogs). Paper 4371a193.pdf in the proceedings.
- Studying the Evolution of Skill Profiles in Distributed, Specialization Driven Service Delivery Systems through Work Orchestration. -- Phew, what a long title... Shivali Agarwal from IBM's India Research Laboratory, explained the experiments she and her team did about the performance of the factory model, that is the decomposition of projects into smaller work elements which are handled by autonomous and specialized teams. As a practitioner, I would have loved to see more about the influence and impact of project management and governance in the effectiveness of the factory and distributed model. And also, more references to the lessons to be learned from the failure of the software factory approach touted in Japan in the 80s. The factory approach also reminded me of crowd-sourcing initiatives such as IBM's GenO Liquid Portal or TopCoder. Paper 4371a210.pdf.
- InnoScore Service: Evaluating Innovation for Product-Related Services -- Mike Freitag presented a software to support surveys about the major drivers and inhibitors of innovation, in the context of services. Paper 4371a214.pdf.
- Measuring the Core Competencies of Service Business: A Resource-Based View -- While the presentation consisted in a litany of service-related characteristics (hard to make this exciting...), the paper contains an interesting taxonomy, aggregating elements from a whopping 48 references! Worth leveraging when building methodologies and models. Paper 4371a222.pdf.
- Panel - Health care IT services -- While certainly a meaningful test of the deployment of electronic medical record at a national scale, I found that the focus on Meaningful Use (MU) gave to this panel a rather regional flavor.
- Panel - University research & new curriculum -- Interesting perspectives about the long term actions of a few representatives from industry and academia in the research space.
- Jim Spohrer, Director of Global University Program at IBM (IBM UP), described the profile of the candidates IBM is looking for as well as how a few "mega topics" align with the priorities of the US Academy of Technology.
- Theresa Maldonado from the National Science Foundation, used Pasteur's Quadrant to describe the scope of NSF's support of fundamental research. And laid down a nice evolution of the engineer profile over the past 5 decades (Engineers of the future).
- Sorel Reisman, President of the IEEE Computer Society, highlighted IEEE's organization and wide range of activities and worldwide coverage. He announced the upcoming trycomputing.com website which will be based on the tryengineering.com model. He also referred to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK), as an example to follow for the service sector.
- Marl Stockman, Chair of the ACM SIG on IT Education, followed up on the accreditation topic by pointing us to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
- Keynote - Andy Bechtolsheim -- A lively and motivational keynote from a tenor of the Silicon Valley (co-fonder of Sun and one of the first investors in Google among other successful ventures), on innovation and pace of change. Per my earlier comment in this post, while Andy explained how the processor density and performance increases by a factor 1,000 every 20 years since 1971 (or 1,000 over the past 40 years, and a total of 1Bn x factor in 20 years at this rate), the human-based services barely improve by a few percentage points in the meantime, from a productivity standpoint (the service business of course grow faster through the employment of more labor forces, in particular off shore, but the model isn't as scalable). Anyway, can't summarize Andy's insights in a few lines, you have to watch him yourself to get inspired!
- Panel - Cloud computing & services -- Here we are back to the definition of services, clearly in the digital service arena (services delivered on the cloud).
- Jamie Erbes, Fellow, Chief Technologist and Head of Service Research at HP, shared the impact of the cloud on the next generation of workers, the professional consumers or "prosumers."
- Wolfgang Gentsch from DEISA in Europe added EaaS (Expertise-as-a-Service) to the already long list of other models such as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) or other IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) (see an interesting post on this acronym "soup" starting with XaaS for everything-as-a-service...).
- I had conference calls from 6 to 11 AM on Friday morning so I missed the keynotes. A few minutes after I got in the room, Hakan Eriksson, Group CTO of Ericsson and President of Ericsson Silicon Valley, was on stage and had an chart on the screen representing the exponential forecasted growth of the mobile data traffic. I don't know if that scared PG&E, our local utility company, but the whole room suddenly lost power, highlighting all the laptops which were on at the time. How ironic that, after so many exciting talks about the cloud, the only devices working were laptop, albeit without Internet connection and mobile devices... A big way to remind us that the cloud needs power and a smarter grid to fuel it. It took at least 10 minutes to get a message from the hotel to let us know that the black out was touching several blocks in San Jose but PG&E was working on it. And almost two hours for the power to come back. This unplanned black out provided another great opportunity to network, the old human and social way...
- Panel - Service innovation for public sectors -- This theme which isn't a SIG yet unfortunately, is of course very relevant to all of us as we are all citizens, and the perspectives and quality of the panelists matched the importance of the topic.
- Ephraim Feig, Associate CIO of the US Social Security, commented on the challenge that an organization managing $700Bn annually was facing. Basically, that you cannot stop the car to fix or improve it, you need to replace and rebuild while driving and keeping the car moving... In this context, research means asking the question "what if we were starting from scratch, what would we do differently" then build and implement a migration path. A migration strategy in which each transition has to tak into account many stringent constraints (quality of service, continuity, limited budget, impact of political cycles, ...).
- The highlight of this panel for me was when Tim Chou shared his vision of the web, from the traditional transaction-based approach to a pure personal touch, a personal experience to every user. Tim Chou is another tenor of Silicon Valley, currently involved in three start-ups after having created and managed the overall On Demand business of Oracle. While I like his definition of services ("the delivery of information which is personal to you"), it certainly applies to digital services over the cloud, but not to all human-delivered services, even the IT-enabled ones. Tim invited all of use to get out of the SQL mentality and used Amazon to illustrate the personal information approach (screen full of recommendations as opposed to the tiny shopping cart in the corner, representing the transaction side). And pointing that most on line banking sites were of the older type, centered around account transactions.
- After this panel, the afternoon continued with two parallel paper sessions, and I attended most of the SIEQ one.
- BioMIMS - SOA Platform for Research of Rare Hereditary Diseases -- As Dr. Aya Soffer (IBM Research, Haifa Lab) said in her panel presentation and demonstrated while presenting her colleagues' paper: "working in the health care space is really cool and rewarding as your work really impacts people's lives." In the case of this paper, SOA is solving the challenge of exchanging huge amount of data across partners and countries (e.g. Israel and Italy) to then apply meaningful analytics.
- Towards and Inclusive World - A simulation Tool to Design Interactive Electronic Systems to Elderly and Disabled Users -- This tool presented and offered by Cambridge University (Pradipta Biswas and Pat Langdon) simulates how a GUI (Graphical User Interface) appears and behave to people with disability such as impaired vision or Parkinson's disease. As a result, you can determine the suitable fonts or color to use, or graphical component size to make the interface usable under certain health conditions. The work has been funded by a European grant and is (will be?) freely accessible.
- Panel - Intelligent services/Information management -- Apart for my comment about the use of the conjunction of intelligent and services in the title, this panel on analytics was one of the best with a good balance between statements from the panelists and questions from the audience. It even seemed like it would never have never stopped if it wasn't for the need to switch to Ann Windblad's keynote and the gala dinner. Represented on the picture, from left to right: Cisco, Shimane University, SAP, Google, HP and National University of Singapore.
- Jim McDonnell, Sr. Director of Cisco's Smart Services Technology Group, made a point about the migration from reactive to predictive and proactive services. And the importance of advanced visualization to complement analytics, to capture more intellectual capital about data and improve access and leverage of data on the cloud.
- From SAP, Vish Agashe, responsible of information and data-related initiatives, stated that the line between the operational and analytical worlds was getting blurrier. That more and more decisions were taken at the point of transaction and the decision shelf life of data was constantly reducing. Therefore, insights need to be prescriptive and/or predictive. Vish also made the case of leveraging social networking techniques and concepts on back office data (for instance, upon learning about a major event such as a tsunami or a merger announcement, contact your suppliers or clients who may be impacted to determine the impact on your own business).
- Despite Hemanth Puttaswamy's introduction (moderator), Daniel Russell, Research Scientist at Google, did not reveal trade secrets about Google's search algorithms, but showed the power of BigData, Google's own implementation of the largest database in the world, with an SQL-like and super fast terminal line interface. Unfortunately, with the delay caused by the black out in the morning, I missed Daniel's second keynote scheduled during the dinner.
- Representing HP (and replacing the third HP Fellow listed on the program after Jamie Erbes and Dan Gonos, quite a committed involvement from HP's leadership), Kannan explained the acceleration of the "time to decision" and why we needed better data to support decisions.
- Last but not least, just off a painful 19-hour flight, Dr Hock-Hai Teo (Associate Professor of Information
Systems and the Head of the Department of Information Systems at the
School of Computing, National University of Singapore) recounted the amazing eGovernment story of his country. Having contributed to many intelligent and decision-support systems for
the various constituents of Singapore since 1990 at ILOG, I was quite
familiar with this eGovernment global success story, yet it is always nice to hear and I do hope that more countries will adopt this citizen-centric and service-oriented approach (albeit the "big brother is watching you" exposure, but who cares on the cloud, right...?).
- The long afternoon (1-7 PM!) finished with an amazing wake-up call or call to action from Ann Winblad, Co-founder and Managing Director, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, a very successful venture capital firm based in San Francisco. Here are some of her statements:
- Today's action is in three areas, which intersect: Mobile, Social, Cloud
- Mobile is the largest platform shift ever. Compared to the PC and any previous computing platform, it is several orders of magnitude bigger, with billions of e-commerce-capable devices coming on the market.
- Most of the platforms are free both for development and deployment! This creates a huge opportunity for today's entrepreneurs and almost eliminate barriers to entry.
- It is a world of prosumers, where employees pick what ever device and application they want. This creates a huge security issue, or opportunity. Ann also talked about the "promiscuous employees."
- The edge of automation is approaching quickly (smart assets, sensors, actuators, agents)
- By the way, this is not the end of the old digital world; nothing dies, but everything fades away, so better embracing change.
In addition to the numerous presentations, about 70 papers were presented as posters in a research forum at the end of each day. Here are a couple which I found particularly noteworthy in my area.
- A Business Model Framework for the Design and Evaluation of Business Models in the Internet of Services -- Nico Weiner and Anette Weisbecker [4371a021.pdf] Very interesting modeling and simulation environment to design and validate a business model and concept, extensive underlying ontology, and actionability with a software-based tool.
- The Corporate Sustainability Dimensions of Service-Oriented Information Technology -- Robert Harmon [Not in proceedings] Like Robert, I am a big fan of sustainable development and responsibility and am convinced that this is a great source of services to help not only our corporations but the whole planet taking care of itself! I have connected Robert to another although quite different initiative about sustainability which I like, much more IT-oriented, but which at least provides its share to a more sustainable world through the building of sustainable IT systems and architectures (http://www.sustainableitarchitecture.com).
3. Opening more doors...
Last but not least, there were a few fliers advertising service-related conferences, such as:
- 1st International Conference on Human Side of Service Engineering (HSSE 2012) - July 21-25, 2012 - San Francisco, CA
- 13th IEEE Conference on Commerce and Enterprise Computing (CEC 2011) - September 5-7, 2011 - Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Speaking of other doors, there is a special one which I hope gets re-open with SRII, that is a relationship with TSIA (Technology Service Industry Association), which we benefited a lot from while I was with ILOG, before begin acquired by IBM. With more than 200 members, this is a major player in the service industry, albeit focused on services rendered by product company (but, to my previous point about the blurry definition of services, focus is good!). Interestingly enough, the major SRII supporters and players (e.g. HP, SAP, Cisco, Ericsson, Microsoft, Oracle) are part of TSIA but IBM. No need to remind me about that and, as a service professional, I wish IBM rejoins TSIA as soon as possible!
To the next time, and looking forward to hearing back from you in the meantime, about the application of your innovations, findings and longer term researches to advance our service field!
(*) 2 sigma means 31% of defect/error, 3 sigma 6.7% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma)